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R U Tough Enough? How I won the title of Singapore’s Toughest.

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Contributed by Ian Deeth, winner of the R U Tough Enough? for Singapore

As a teacher of five- to 11-year-olds, I thoroughly enjoy my job and supporting my students to help them fulfil their potential and pursue their passions. Outside of work, I enjoy training for Obstacle Course Racing events (OCR). Since I started the sport at the end of 2015, I have 16 Spartan podium elite finishes and have won also the Singapore Spartan Elite Sprint twice.

R U Tough Enough

I found out about R U Tough Enough? (RUTE), a contest focusing not only on physical strength but also mental and emotional resilience, through an ad on Facebook, saying that KIX HD and Singtel TV are bringing the contest to Singapore. It was different from the usual obstacle courses that I was used to, as this comes with a very heavy emphasis on mental toughness. I knew at once that this was exactly the sort of challenge that would push my limits, and was something I could potentially do well at.

There were many instances in the past where I had to rely on resiliency of the mind, even in the setting of physical challenges. In the inaugural Spartan race in Singapore, I banged my head on one of the obstacles and actually knocked myself out clean during the first 1km of the race. After a few seconds of bloodied dizziness, I got back on with the task in hand, completed the race and managed to win the race. After the competition, I then went to the hospital and was given seven stitches.

To me, true toughness is overcoming difficult challenges which test you both mentally and physically. Mental toughness and resiliency is absolutely crucial when it comes to physical competitions. To overcome tough challenges, you have to prepare physically, but you can often push yourself much further than you initially think. The key is to focus on what you can control and while it is important to set goals, don’t set limits.

In preparation for RUTE, I kept to my usual training routine of running several times a week, mixing it up on the roads and trials, and switching between speed intervals, tempo work and longer steady runs. I also did Olympic-lifting, calisthenics and focused a lot on my mobility.

However, I knew that there was more to RUTE than just physical challenges. A large part of the RUTE focuses on the emotional and mental resilience, and through watching past years’ RUTE challenges in Malaysia and the Philippines, I caught a glimpse of what RUTE embodies, and I knew that I had to expect the unexpected.

Fast forward to the Final Showdown – the competition comprised of a series of physically and mentally demanding challenges for ten finalists, which included an agile track, a bicycle challenge, car-pulling, chilli padi-eating, memory test and shuffling board challenge.

The challenges were to be completed back-to-back and with RUTE being a timed course, there was no time to spare trying to catch my breath. The standard of contestants was also extremely high, each athlete brought a different skill set and pushed themselves hard.

R U Tough Enough

The hardest part of the competition for me was having to eat chilli padi right after the 2000kg car-pull challenge. With spicy food being my weakness, this literally “spiced” things up! I knew I had to put mind over matter in order to get past the burn in both my mouth and stomach, and jumped straight into the memory challenge whilst having to distract my mind from the intense pain from the chilli.

Through RUTE, I am even more certain that mental toughness and physical strength comes hand-in-hand, you really can’t have one without the other. In the end, my hard work and resolve to keep pushing on paid off, and I managed to take home the title of ‘Singapore’s Toughest’, proving once and for all that mental toughness is key.

This isn’t quite the end though. Come 2 December, I’ll be taking part in RUTE Southeast Asia, alongside finalists from five other countries, in a regional grand finale of the search for ‘Southeast Asia’s Toughest’. Joining me to represent Singapore will be Muhammad Bukhary, fire-fighter by day and also the first runner-up of the competition. I’m really looking forward to giving my all for RUTE SEA, and to take home the title.

My strategy? Focus. Push hard. And keep pushing, hard.

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